GO RED: Join Four Time Stroke Survivor Shaleita Cook As She Spreads The Word And Takes Action To Help Prevent Strokes

Q&A WITH SURVIVOR SHALEITA COOK IN SUPPORT OF STROKE AWARENESS MONTH:

  1. When was your first stroke? 12/7/15-documented
  2. How did you feel when the doctor’s explained to you what was going on? I felt relieved (due to misdiagnosis), but scared. My Wellstar Cobb medical records (12/7/15) stated there were two infractions in my left frontal lobe (new one and old one). I do believe that I had my first stroke back October 27, 2014 but Wellstar Cobb did not give me a MRI. In February 2015, I had another MRI ordered by Northwest Neurology proving the infarction was there. I continued to have TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attack) until December 2015. (I have a timeline for October 27, 2014 to December 7, 2015.)
  3. Do strokes run in your family? No, but I had four ischemic strokes in December 2015 without the regular risk factors. The last one was severe.

4. What symptoms do you deal with leading up to a stroke and during? * I was misdiagnosis with migraines since October 27, 2014 when actually I was having a transient ischemic attack (TIAs). I went back the NW Neurology in January 2015. At that time, things were difficult for me but I can say that I did everything the doctors told me to do. Prior to the strokes in December 2015, I had 2 CT scans and 2 MRIs. Even though I had slurred speech and language difficulties, I was still diagnosed with confusion according to NW Neurology.The neurologist recommended that I see a psychiatrist. The first psychiatrist misdiagnosed with Bipolar II disorder and ADHD in January 2015 to June 2015. In August 2015, l looked for a second opinion. My former psychiatrist Dr. Warner stated had a mood disorder (depression) but didn’t have bipolar or ADHD.   I took numerous days off from work, applied for student hardship withdrawal and submitted medical records to my employer and the University of West Georgia because I didn’t have a choice due my absences. I was able to graduate July 2015 with my last educational specialist but now I know why it was so hard to focus and learn.

5. Do the results of your previous strokes limit your everyday activities? After 4 months of outpatient rehab (January 2016-April 2016), I was back to work as Social Studies teacher (my 9th year). I made 11 weeks before my mind and body shut down. In October 2016, I had a 3-4 hours brain cognitive testing. The results was mild cognitive impairment (due to damages to my left frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes). Due to the strokes, my working memory, processing speed, multitasking, attention deficit are all impaired. I also have expressive aphasia. My right arm is still weak always have shoulder, arm, and hand pain when   I developed PTSD from going back to work. My doctor stated that teaching is no longer a good fit anymore. He said it will only show my weaknesses and not my strengths. Due having PTSD, I went back to outpatient rehab again for occupational, speech, and counseling from November 2016-January 2017. Still seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist every 2-6 weeks. I resigned/retired from teaching February 2017. I cashed out my teacher retirement so that we can live on one income. Working on reestablishing my business which I started in 2014. Davinci Mode Designs will focus on home staging, redesign, and custom art (some upholstery and DIY project information). I am getting a new logo that includes the red awareness ribbon. My title is “Creative Educational Specialist”/owner. I am blessed to paint again! Amen! I am learning to deal with my new limitations.

6. How has overcoming the condition helped you grow? I will never take for granted anything anymore. When you lose everything and you are blessed to get some of it back. I will never take things for granted. My relationship with God has never been like this. I think the girl with the church background but after this experience, I pray and say grace every day. I finally realized was important and all the blessings that I have had that I still have.

7. If you could give advice to anyone who has had a stroke what would it be? Recovery is a lifelong battle but takes your time. Get enough rest because your brain recuperate better if you’re rested.

8. It is Stroke Awareness Month, how do you plan to celebrate and educate the world on the condition? I am social media to educate about stroke including my former teacher IG.

9. You are a “four-time stroke survivor correct? Tell me a little bit about that process of hospital visits and other life-changing events that took place? I have 4 strokes in December 2015. The first one was mild that I had while I was sleeping. I woke up on December 6 without the function of my right hand. It wasn’t like the other muscle spasm (TIAs) it didn’t go away. That was the reason why I went to the emergency room they tried to send me home because I didn’t have to risk factors of a stroke but they finally gave me a CT scan that showed that I had a stroke and there was an older infarction. I was admitted to the hospital where I had 2 another strokes. A) On December 8, I would get up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t smile, I told my husband who was there always, he called the nurse and I went for another MRI/CT scan. It was about 30 minutes later, then I could smile again but there was damage according to the new test results but I still didn’t have the function of my right hand. Another mild stroke listed as a 3. B) On December 10 (around 6 am), I lost function of my right side. I woke up my husband he called the nurse and again. They call for another round of tests while we were waiting for my leg came back and my arm came back a few minutes or 30 minutes later but still no function with my right hand. The stroke was a moderate meaning it was listed at 7 (stroke scale from 0 to 42). So my former neurologist (who is home office is Northwest Neurology), she thought something was wrong with my blood so she shipped it off to a lab. C) I was discharged from Wellstar Cobb on Saturday 12/12/15 without cause of the strokes. On Tuesday (12/15/15), I had a severe stroke after letting my 2 dogs outside. I lost function of all of my right side. By the grace of God, I fell on the sofa and had to my phone (because my husband told me to keep it on me). I thought it going to go away like the other strokes. finally, I called my husband. He called me back because he was at work. Use my left hand to answer the phone but couldn’t speak. My husband knew something was wrong because we’ve been together for over 18 years if I’m not talking something is wrong. My husband called an ambulance took me back to Wellstar Cobb. My right leg came back (weak) but my right arm was flaccid paralyzation at the hospital D) I was later transferred to Wellstar Kennestone . My best neurologist ever (Dr. Gupta) found that I had an ulcerated plaque in my left carotid artery (true cause of the strokes).I had a carotid endarterectomy (neck surgery) on 12/21/15. Inpatient therapy for six days discharged from the hospital. 4 months of outpatient rehab including speech, occupational, and physical.

CONNECT WITH SHALEITA COOK:

Instagram: @lele1009

Facebook: @Shaleita Cook

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING STROKE AWARENESS MONTH!

E'Vonne Gipson59 Posts

Follow E'Vonne: Instagram: @forever_evonne Twitter: @EVonneGipson SC: @byevonnegipson E'Vonne Gipson is an award winning journalist from Missouri City, TX. She is a graduate of Grambling State University where she received a B.A. degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in journalism and public relations. Gipson has written for several publications including Sheen Magazine, HBCU Buzz, The Black Beat, The News-Star, The Ruston Daily Leader, JubileeMag.com, and Houston Style Magazine. She is a former business reporting intern at Abilene Reporter-News in Abilene, TX and a current social media intern for MC Lyte's Hip Hop Sisters Network. She first began her journalism career writing for her school's newspaper "The Gramblinite". In 2016, Gipson worked with the Web Department at Houston television station, KHOU-11 TV where she gained professional photography and social media skills. Gipson is currently a producer at USA Today Network newspaper, The News-Star in Monroe. She is a member of The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

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